DVD Review: The Best of the Carol Burnett Show (50th Anniversary Edition)

16Carol Burnett was a mainstay of television with her variety show from the late ’60 through most of the ’70s. Over the course of 11 seasons, she welcomed plenty of guest stars onto her stage to sing, dance and resist breaking up to Harvey Korman’s antics. Perhaps the biggest effect of Carol’s impact is that since her show went off the air in 1978, there hasn’t been a successful primetime variety show. People have tried. That’s why we had Pink Lady and Jeff. The Carol Burnett Show changed things up for syndication by cutting down to only 30 minutes and only featuring sketches from the final half of the run. It’s a highlight show that doesn’t capture the complete variety show atmosphere. The Best of the Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition allows fans a chance to not only get the full experience, but sample 16 episodes from the entire run.

The first episode brings out Jim Nabors as the guest. This was important since Carol had guest starred a few times on Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. Jim would eventually quit the show and start his own variety series. Carol’s cast included Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner. Vicki was often playing Carol’s younger sister. Harvey did the male roles. Lyle worked mainly as the announcer and occasional man candy. While it’s a shock to realize Tim Conway wasn’t a cast member until the last few years, he was such a regular guest star that he was able to create recurring characters sort of like Steve Martin in the early years of Saturday Night Live. The guests featured on these episodes include Tim, Ella Fitzgerald, Bernadette Peters (The Jerk), Perry Como, Liza Minnelli (Cabaret), Burt Reynolds (Boogie Nights), Rock Hudson (Giant), James Stewart (North By Northwest) and more. The final episode that’s double length wraps up the boxset so you are getting the alpha and omega with a taste of the middle.

The sketches include a few of the classics including “Carol and Sis,” the frustrating secretary “Mrs. Wiggins,” “The Family” that became Mama’s Family and the soap opera saga “As the Stomach Turns.” There are plenty of musical numbers. But a few of the episodes are rather short with segments that had to be snipped because of musical medleys. Which is frustrating, but there’s enough singing from Carol and company to get a sense of how much she enjoyed putting on a full show for her studio audience.

The Best of the Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition is an ideal sampler for fans that want to go beyond the Best of Carol that airs on MeTV. The 16 episodes reveal how her variety show changed over it’s 11 season run.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The series was shot on standard definition video so there’s a few minor glitches on the screen, but nothing that will throw you off. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. Things sound fantastic including the horns for the theme song.

11 Years of Laughter on The Carol Burnett Show (27:09) has Carol, Lyle, Vicki, Tim and guest stars discuss what made the sketches work so well.

Bonus Bloopers include The Brown Derby and Dog’s Life

Interview: Jim Bailey (9:44) let’s the famed female impersonator discuss how appearing on Carol was a bit of a break through. He probably helped pave the way for RuPaul’s Drag Race

The End of 11 Years: Saying So Long (11:20) wraps up the final year with Carol, writers, guest stars and stars inspired by the show giving their memories.

Interview: Carol Burnett (16:19) sits down with the star to reflect on her long run.

Time Life presents The Best of the Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition. Starring: Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner and Tim Conway. Boxset Contents: 16 episodes on 6 DVDs. Released: October 3, 2017.

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